Home Sports Local Sports Rockets blast by Portales; state tournament awaits

Rockets blast by Portales; state tournament awaits

The Goddard Rockets stand after their 57-39 win over Portales Friday night at Ground Zero. The Rockets are District 4-4A tournament champions. (Steve Notz Photo)

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The chants of “Let’s go Rockets! Let’s go Rockets!” reverberated through Ground Zero from the Goddard Nation as the Rockets defeated the Portales Rams, 57-39, Friday night to win the District 4-4A tournament.

Goddard’s Jonah Chavez guards a Portales ball handler during the first half of action at Ground Zero Friday night. (Steve Notz Photo)

As the buzzer sounded, ending the game, the crowd broke from the stands to embrace their beloved Rockets who became district champs for the first time since 2012. “This is amazing,” said senior Derek Carrica, who scored six points in the game.

His defensive presence kept the Rams from posting up inside. Hunter Beene also got into the act — the pair combined for five blocked shots and forced the Rams into a perimeter-shooting team, which they didn’t do well that ultimately spelled their doom.

“Our defense has kicked it in full gear,” said head coach Anthony Mestas, who won his first district title as Rockets’ head coach. “We have grown together, fought together and tonight, we won together.”

The Rockets had not played in a week, and the Rams were hoping a little rust would set in.

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What rust? Goddard took it to Portales, matching them basket for basket in the first quarter. It was a clean and well-played first quarter with officials only calling three violations — almost as clean as a hound dogs’ tooth.

And the Rockets played like a hound dog chasing the Rams and sniffing them out at every turn, and in the end, they turned the Rams into lamb chops.

“No doubt they came to play, but we were ready for them,” said senior Jonah Chavez, who finished with nine points.

The first quarter told the tale. Portales threw everything at Goddard, including the proverbial kitchen sink — they led, 2-0, 4-2 and 10-7.

Goddard big man Derek Carrica scores two points in the first half against Portales Friday night. (Steve Notz Photo)

However, Goddard tied the game on a triple from Jon Carrillo who tallied 12 points on the night, and with time running down, Xavier Garcia’s three-pointer at the buzzer gave Goddard a 13-10 lead, which it never relinquished and sank any hopes of Portales winning this game.

The Rockets in the second period forced Portales into six turnovers and with Carrica and Beene playing solid defense inside the paint, the Rams shied away from them and instead became a low-percentage shooting team, going 0-6 from the outside.

The only points the Rams scored were on two uncontested layups and two free throws, and even from the charity stripe, they were two of six in the second period.

The Rockets outscored them, 13-6, and took a 26-16 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was everything Goddard. The Rockets were everywhere flying across the floor for loose balls, hustling to make saves on the end lines and just basically putting on a basketball clinic, which made the Rams just plain sick.

Portales did make a mini-run in the third quarter. They were trailing, 36-25, then went on a 5-0 roll, to cut the lead to 36-30. The Rockets never panicked, though.

“We were ready for that — they are a good team,” said Mestas. “We just never lost our composure.”

The win pushes the Rockets to 18-9 on the season, which includes an eight-game winning streak, and the waiting begins. The selection committee will make its 4A picks on Sunday.

According to Max Preps, Goddard is currently ninth in the 4A standings with those 18 wins. The other 4A teams that recorded more wins this season are Los Lunas, the top seed with 23; Gallup with 22; Silver City with 21; and Hope Christian with 19 wins.

Hopefully, as district champions, Goddard will receive a first-round home game. The selection committee will release all of the state playoff brackets for the boys and girls sometime Sunday.

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